Netherlands • 1895−1987

Biography and information

Anton Francis Peak (Den Helder, April 19, 1895 - Overven, November 24, 1987) - a famous Dutch illustrator, artist and graphic artist. Together with director Peter Reinders from 1951 to 1975, he designed the scenery and design of buildings for Disneyland's predecessor, the Efteling amusement park (Kaatsheuvel, the Netherlands).

Features of the artist Anton Pick: multi-facetedness and great attention to detail. The drawings of Anton Pick detain the viewer's attention, I want to examine them, looking for curious details. A lone romantic, a lover of antiquities, fairy tales and sagas, Anton Peak revealed his inner world through illustrations created by him with great taste and skill, seasoning them with a bit of humor and irony. In his creative baggage - illustrations for 350 books. Christmas cards, which Peak drew annually for decades - the national "calling card" of the Netherlands. Anton Pik's legacy includes tens of thousands of drawings, about a hundred oil paintings, as well as engravings, woodcuts, lithographs, magazine covers, ex-librises, postcards and calendars, architectural projects of the Autotron museum and several private houses, as well as 1,500 Efteling designs.

The brightest projects of Anton Pick: illustrations for the books “Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tales and Stories”, “Grimm Brothers Tales”, “The Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens, “A Thousand and One Nights” in 16 volumes, design art and architectural designs for the Dutch Efteling amusement park.

Anton Francis Peak and his twin brother Henri were born on April 19, 1895 in the family of naval engineer Henri Christian Peak and his wife Stoffelins Petronella Neits. It was a double joy for the couple Peak, whose first son died in infancy. The childhood of Anton and Henri was not very cheerful: his father, by virtue of his profession, often traveled, and when he returned, he often drank. The mother was engaged in raising and educating the boys: she saw her sons' ability to draw, and she contributed to their development with all her might. Tense relations between parents led to the fact that from an early age Anton completely plunged into the world of his own fantasies, trusting them only to paper and paints. So Anton Peak remained his whole life - a polite, quiet, silent man who enjoyed his work immensely.

Anton Peak received his first prize - five jars of paint and a retainer - at the age of 11, presenting watercolor work at the exhibition of home crafts. The boy loved nature and often brought plants from the walks through the dunes, which he studied and sketched. One day, mother saw Anton crying by the window; the son answered the question about the cause of tears that he was upset that he could not draw rain. Autumn and winter became Anton's favorite seasons of the year; it was he who preferred them in his works. The boy loved to read and was fond of fairy tales and fantastic stories, which later was reflected in his drawings.

In 1906, Pick's father retired and the family moved to The Hague. Anton and Henry studied at the school, in 1910 they began to attend evening courses at the Academy of Fine Arts, and two years later - the Hague Institute of Drawing. In 1915, Anton Pick was called up for military service; its part was located in the city of Amersfoort, famous for the beauty of its ancient streets and squares. Thus began Peak's love for historical urban ensembles. The capital of the Netherlands has become the most beloved city of Pick. “Amsterdam has always attracted me, and for many years I went there one day a week to capture all kinds of streets, alleys and the smallest details,” wrote Peak in his diaries.

Demobilized after three and a half years, Peak began working as a teacher at the Beek and Vaandragher Institute of Drawing, and from 1920 began teaching at Kennemere Lyceum in Auverghen, where he worked for up to 65 years. The first book with Pic illustrations is published in 1921 - this is the novel “Palliter” by the Flemish writer Felix Timmermans. From 1925 to 1939, he collaborated with Sunshine, a magazine for children and youth, for which he creates beautiful black and white illustrations of folk tales from different countries: gnomes, witches, ancient castles and oriental scenes are present.

Anton Peak drew inspiration for his works in the distant past; as he once said in an interview, "I like to dive into previous centuries." According to the diaries of the artist, he was a big fan Pieter Bruegel... He was admired by the masters of the Golden Age of Dutch painting - Vermeer and Rembrandt, van dyke and Khals. Living in Haarlem, Peak was a frequent visitor to the Frans Hals Museum, which was two steps from his home. Anton Pick paid tribute to the British culture: the works of Charles Dickens and satirical engravings George Krukshenka, illustrations by Habloth Night Brown and John leach. The artist was also a big fan of the French Gustava Dore.

From 1912 to 1933, Anton Peak worked primarily in graphic techniques; He was fond of engraving on metal and wood, as well as lithography, in which he was helped by the one-and-a-half-tonne Krausse press from 1870. In the twenties, Peak switched to drawings in pencil and watercolor, and from 1924 began to paint in oils. The artist was constantly immersed in work - seven days a week, from morning to evening, for the most part ignoring newspapers, radio and television.
In 1922, Peak married Joe van Poelworth; the couple had three children: Elsa (1924), Anneke (1925) and Max (1928). The family moved to Overwyn, where the Peak couple lived their whole lives.

Since 1940 and throughout life, Anton Peak annually created Christmas illustrations for calendars and cards, which made his work extremely popular both in Holland and in England - Peak's fabulous pictures were sold like hot cakes and scattered around the world. Despite the Second World War, he continued his work as an illustrator. In 1942, the book The Tales of the Brothers Grimm, richly illustrated by Peak, was released. It was she who inspired Peter Reinders to invite Anton Pik to work together on the Fairytale Forest in Efteling Amusement Parkthat was the beginning of their long collaboration from 1951 to 1974.

Peak loved to travel with his wife, going on a journey with his drawing supplies, and never flew an airplane. The couple visited Germany and Austria, Italy and Sweden, Ireland and France. However, Peak called his second homeland England; his first visit took place in 1937, when, on the way to Morocco, the steamer, on which the artist sailed, made a stop in Southampton. The peak was so impressed with the architecture of the city that he began to make sketches, without departing from the ship. Since 1951, Peak and his wife often came to England, visiting the family of their daughter Elsa; Peak's pictures were left over from London and Oxford, and landscapes of Wales and Gloucestershire.

Together with Holland, Flanders and England, Morocco became one of the most important countries for the work of Anton Pick. After his journey, the artist created about 80 drawings, most of which became illustrations for the “1000 and 1 nights” in 16 volumes, on which he worked from 1943 to 1956. In total, the artist created 450 black and white and 60 color illustrations for adult audiences for “1000 and 1 Nights”.

The first solo exhibition of Anton Pick took place only in 1967: the Van Ricume Gallery in Apeldoorn presented 400 works of the artist, which by that time had already turned 72 years old. Despite his venerable age, Anton Pik continued his active creative activity: in 1968, he developed an architectural project for the museum of vintage cars in Drunene - Autotron, ordered by the Lip family; the museum opened in 1972. Subsequently, the museum was moved, and the building in Drunen is today used as a cultural center with a theater and restaurants. In 1973, Hans Fogelesang, an old friend of Pick, published a biographical book, His Life, His Work, dedicated to the work of the artist.

In his advanced years, Peak returned to the images of nature, painted landscapes and still lifes - just like in childhood. On September 6, 1984, an opening took place in the city of Hattem. Anton Pick Museumwhich was attended by the artist himself.
Anton Pik died peacefully in his sleep at the age of 92, on the night of November 24-25, 1987. An unfinished watercolor remained on his desktop - a silent witness to the artist’s love for his work, to which Anton Pick devoted his whole long life.

Author: Rita Lozinskaya